Looking back at Kellingley Colliery closure one year on

One year has passed since Kellingley Colliery closed down, marking the end of deep coal mining across the UK.

Thursday, 22nd December 2016, 8:15 am
Updated Thursday, 29th December 2016, 2:03 pm
END OF AN ERA: Phil Kelsey a miner for 38 years in the lamp room after his last shift last year.

The pit, the largest deep mine in Europe, which at its peak employed more than 2,000 workers, shut on December 18, 2015, after 50 years of production.

“There were a lot of emotions running high that day,” said Peter Wordsworth, 49, who was assistant manager of the colliery at the time.

“We knew it was going to close on the 18th and we were preparing for our final shift.

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“We felt like we were waiting for someone to rip the floor from under our feet. It was inevitably going to happen but we always hoped somebody would turn around and say they didn’t really mean it.

“I personally felt privileged and proud to be one of the lucky few who got the opportunity to work right through to the end of the country’s last coal mine closing.

“To see grown men cry, proud of their work but sad to see the end, it was humbling.”

During the past year, its shafts have been sealed and parts of the colliery have been demolished.

New owner Harworth Estates, which took over the site in March, has unveiled plans to transform it into a business park. The company says it wants to regenerate the site and bring prosperity to the mining community.

Pontefract and Castleford MP Yvette Cooper said she hoped it would create “good quality, skilled jobs that the area needs”.

Meanwhile, the National Union of Mineworkers has said it is still fighting for a “fair deal” for Kellingley’s coal miners.

General Secretary Chris Kitchen and Ms Cooper are calling on the Government to give the workers extra payouts on top of their statutory redundancy pay. Mr Kitchen said: “We believe there was not meaningful consultation about Kellingley because there was never a chance of saving the colliery. In those circumstances, the men are entitled to an extra payment of up to £3,800.”